When I walked into the waiting room at Dana Farber, I noticed an older couple sitting together with some space between them. Her face pointed slightly away from him and turned toward a wordsearch book she was holding. She held a pen in her right hand but wasn’t using it. Her eyes appeared to be unfocused.
Settling into my seat, I heard his harsh tone.
“You are crying? You can cry when I croak.”
Without even thinking, I looked up. Since I was sitting in the section next to them, I wasn’t looking straight at them, but saw them both from the side. She was closer to me and I now noticed her shaking shoulders and realized she wasn’t saying a word.
He repeated his words again, in the same harsh tone. “You can cry when I croak.”
Of course, everyone has their own way of dealing with emotionally difficult issues, especially heartbreak, and no one way is right. I still felt this overwhelming desire to help somehow (see previous posts on stranger-friends!), to hold her hand or give her a hug, I also felt like they would both turn on me and that it wouldn’t help. This was a private matter playing out in a public setting.
Her shoulders were shaking while she still made no sound. Soon, the nurse called him to get his vital signs taken and she remained seated.
Right then, a man in his early 30’s sat down next to her.
“Hi,” he said kindly. “Can I sit here?”
I didn’t listen to the rest of their conversation and I don’t even know how much they actually spoke. I did see that she looked at him almost as one would look at a lifeline as he continued to slowly connect with her.
I don’t know about her, but I was grateful.